In nature, encounters between humans and wildlife correlate with greater viral burdens in wildlife and therefore with higher risk of new viral pathogens spilling over into human populations. Yet, the factors contributing to this risk remain poorly understood, especially among highly mobile, but tightly packed populations of animals, such as cave-dwelling bats. Using the Egyptian fruitbat as a study system, this project seeks to understand how factors such as access to food, overall animal health, and responses to immune challenges influence each other in the wild to control the degree of viral infection in populations experiencing variable exposure to humans. The project will use highly integrative approaches to illuminate the fundamental biology of disease risk and to enhance the capacity to predict risks of viral spillover from bats to other wildlife or to humans. The project will also have broader impact on education and training by implementing an innovative active-learning experience, called “From the Bat Cave – Integrative Disease Research for Undergraduates”, in which postdoctoral researchers will learn to apply integrative research and mentoring methods to involve cohorts of undergraduate students in research and peer-peer mentoring through GBatNet, a NSF-funded international network of bat research groups.